What’s your website conversion rate and how does it compare with your affiliate program conversion rate? You may not have paid attention to these details but you should. In fact, we advise merchants not to start an affiliate program until they establish a decent website conversion rate.
On one hand, affiliates are not guinea pigs, and they should not be used to test and improve a website’s functionality. They are partners who should be brought along only when the business is stable and the traffic they send can be turned into sales and profits for everyone. Their role is to send qualified, targeted traffic to your website, while yours is to convert that traffic into sales.
On the other hand, low conversion negatively impacts affiliate program statistics and, with them, recruitment and affiliate marketing success. The affiliate program conversion rate tells affiliates how many sales they can expect to drive with every 100 visitors they send to your website. If it’s low, it will tell affiliates that you’re not worth promoting.
Your only chance to convince them will be to pay higher commissions, and that could prove expensive. Conversion can make a 5% affiliate commission more enticing than a 20% affiliate commission – think 1% conversion rate vs. 3-5% conversion rate. And if you can afford a 20% commission, imagine how happy and motivated affiliates will be with a solid conversion rate!
Building a solid website and affiliate program conversion rate should be a priority for you and your team. How do you do it? The first step is to deal with each separately. Even though they influence one another, they are also influenced by different factors and can be improved in different ways. Here are some solutions that we’ve seen working for some of our clients:
Ways to Improve Website Conversion
1. Improve Website Content
Your text and graphics should work together to guide website visitors from the page they land on to checkout. They should do a great job identifying the visitors’ needs and explaining how your products and/or services answer those needs.
Try looking at your website from the visitors’ perspective. Are the images attractive enough? Is the text simple, readable, and easy to understand? Do you answer all the questions a prospect may have?
2. Increase Website Speed
How fast does your website load? Is there room for improvement? Statistics say that every second counts. Websites loading within 2 seconds have the highest conversion rate, and every additional second required for your website to load decreases conversion and increases bounce probability.
Perhaps there are some images you can compress, some videos you can render differently, or some third-party code that you can remove. It can’t hurt to check, and any improvement will make a difference.
3. Make Sure You Have the Lowest Prices
If your products are available in any other stores, be they Amazon, Walmart, wholesale platforms, or some small local shops, make sure you have the lowest prices! People shop around. Making them fall in love with your products is not enough. If you want them to buy from you, make sure you have the lowest prices or find another way (extended warranty, freebies, features, etc.) to beat all the other offers out there.
4. Add More Payment Methods and Financing Options
Do you support all the popular credit and debit cards, PayPal, and Google Pay? If not, you should consider adding them – you surely don’t want potential buyers to walk away just because they couldn’t complete payment through their favorite method.
If you have products or services priced over $100, you should consider offering split payment options. If your average order value exceeds $500, then some 6-12-36-60 months and bad credit financing options will help you improve conversion even more.
Many people are facing financial hardships nowadays. It’s in your best interest to make your products and/or services affordable to everyone.
5. Provide Phone, Email, and Live Chat Support
Sometimes buyers have questions. Other times, they just want to know they’re dealing with real people and they’ll receive their money’s worth. Having someone to answer questions and support buyers when needed will surely benefit your website and affiliate program conversion rate.
Just remember to instruct your support representatives not to take orders by live chat or, if they do, make efforts to identify the affiliates who referred those buyers and help you repay them. Otherwise, your affiliates will worry about traffic leaks and untracked orders and will think twice before promoting you.
6. Offer & Advertise Money-Back Guarantees
Your website visitors need to know that if they’re not happy with your products or services they can get a refund. It tells them that they don’t risk anything by buying from you, that their satisfaction is guaranteed. And you should make efforts to ensure buyer satisfaction if you’re serious about being successful and scaling. Otherwise, you’ll end up with an avalanche of refund requests and/or negative reviews, which will chase away both buyers and affiliates and drag down both website and affiliate conversion.
7. Provide Free Shipping and Discounts
Did you know that, in the U.S., 92% of shoppers use coupons, including for free shipping (88% of shoppers). Offering free shipping and coupons will make your website visitors feel better about their purchases. It will give them confidence that they are saving money and getting a good deal.
If you’re worried about costs, setting a minimum order value for free shipping may help. Generally, dollar-off discounts are perceived as more tangible and preferred by buyers. However, if your average order value is low, percentage-based discounts will work well too. Don’t hesitate to play with numbers and ideas until you find the solutions that work best for you.
8. Offer Rewards
Rewards will not only help you improve website conversion but will also convince your customers to return. You can offer reward points or straight cashback, incentives for users to share your offers on social media and invite other users to join, etc. The bottom line is that you cannot go wrong with rewards, and they are easy to provide with cashback API solutions like Loyalize.
9. Exit Intent Overlays
Many visitors will leave your website without buying. Luckily, technology gives you a chance to stop them by displaying one last message just when they come close to clicking the [x] button. The exit intent popup can:
- Reinforce your best selling points
- Offer an additional discount
- Invite the visitor to participate in a contest or giveaway
- Ask for feedback
- Collect the email address (newsletter subscription, first-order discount, etc.)
10. Retarget Website Visitors
When people come to your website, it usually means they’re interested in the products or services you offer. You may fail to convince them to buy on the first visit but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring them back. Retarget them through paid ads, both on the search engines and on social media, and through email marketing campaigns. Statistics show that retargeting can increase your conversion rate by up to 150%.
There are, of course, even more things you could do to improve website conversion. However, the above should be more than enough to get you started and show you what works for your visitors and what doesn’t. And by improving your website conversion rate, the above will also help improve your affiliate program conversion rate. But there are also specific measures that you can take to improve the latter, and we’ve covered the most important of them in the following lines.
Ways to Improve Affiliate Program Conversion
1. Provide Accurate Product/Service Information
Your affiliates are the ones who introduce your products and/or services to potential buyers. They create expectations, so it helps to give them all the information they need to create the right expectations. You know your products better than anyone, so don’t hesitate to highlight selling points, what sets you apart from competitors. You may even go as far as reviewing the content where they promote your products and/or services and setting facts straight.
2. Offer All the Necessary Creatives and Timely Updates
As a merchant, it is your duty to provide your affiliates with high-quality creatives:
- Links (including deep links)
- Product images
- Datafeed, etc.
- Coupons (especially exclusive ones)
If you don’t provide creatives or you provide subpar ones, your affiliates will have a hard time convincing their audience to buy. After all, the creatives your affiliates use are, in many cases, the first contact their audience has with your brand. Therefore, invest some time and effort and provide your affiliates with high-quality creatives to ensure a good first impression for their audience.
An important type of creatives is deals and coupons. You should always notify your affiliates about them. Give your top affiliates exclusive discounts, tied to unique, personalized coupon codes. Their audience will feel that they are getting a special deal and will no longer shop around. Moreover, the personalized coupon codes will improve tracking accuracy and contribute to a higher affiliate program conversion rate.
Offering a wide range of creatives is not everything. Remember to update your creatives as necessary. Visitors looking for products or services you no longer offer, being confused by different logos and selling points, looking for discounts that are no longer available, or ending up on a 404 page may get disappointed, leave, and drag your conversion rate down.
3. Display/Advertise Any Notable Awards & Badges
Did an affiliate recommend your products or services as best in a specific category? Did a major publisher or niche magazine write about them? Don’t be shy! Use those recognitions to engage the visitors they send your way and all website visitors.
Knowing that a product they’re interested in was endorsed by specialists, influencers, or major publishers like Forbes and others will give your website visitors confidence to buy and, thus, increase your website and affiliate program conversion rate.
Just be careful how you advertise those badges so as not to upset affiliates. Ask the affiliates who provided the endorsements for approval or even ready-to-use badges. Do not link to any websites as it would be considered a traffic leak. Do not invent or exaggerate awards and endorsements. If an award is too complicated to explain, an [As seen on] section with the logo(s) of the website(s) endorsing your products or services may work better.
4. Work with Conversion Optimization Affiliates
It’s not uncommon for a merchant to lack the resources required to implement some of the above. When that happens, affiliates may be able to help. The best part is that processing the sales they optimize through the affiliate program will considerably increase your conversion rate. For example, there are affiliates who can:
- Set up and manage exit-intent popups
- Send push notifications
- Send shopping cart recovery emails and text messages
- Retarget visitors leaving the website through paid ads
- Identify website abandoners by matching their IP with their email address or phone number and retarget them by email, text messages, social media, etc.
While their contribution is important, you should manage cooperations with conversion optimization affiliates carefully. On one hand, your other affiliates will not like having the traffic they send retargeted by another affiliate able to overwrite their cookies and basically steal their commission. Also, depending on what marketing campaigns you have in place, costs could get out of control.
It helps to manage such partnerships with the help of a knowledgeable affiliate program manager, who understands all the implications and can negotiate and implement workarounds. There are ways to keep costs under control, all valuable affiliates happy, and improve your affiliate program conversion rate. However, these need to be identified on a case-to-case basis, taking into account your business specifics, your affiliate program terms, the affiliates you work with, and other such variables.
5. Monitor, Police, and Optimize Affiliates’ Promotions
Some content affiliates will not update their promos. Some reviewers will link to homepage instead of linking to the specific product they reviewed. There may be cases when affiliates promote one product but link to another. And you’ll surely have a lot of coupon affiliates who advertise fake discounts. Such occurrences will negatively impact your website and affiliate program conversion rate, so it’s in your best interest to prevent and eliminate them.
You can do that by monitoring your affiliates’ promotions. Help those open to it to optimize their promotions. Take measures against those who refuse to comply and who don’t add value to your brand and affiliate program. By lowering your affiliate program conversion rate, the traffic that doesn’t convert sent by some unscrupulous affiliates could end up costing you valuable collaborations, so you may be better off without it.
Of course, this doesn’t include outdated promotions from huge media outlets. Top media affiliates are often unresponsive and send top-funnel traffic that converts to a lower extent. However, they are great for brand awareness, reputation, and SEO, so you don’t want to lose them.
The Bottom Line
Improving your website and affiliate program conversion rate will not be easy. It’s all tied together, and there are many subtleties to take into account. However, the effort will be well worth it. At the end of the day, the higher conversion rate means more sales for you and more commissions for your affiliates, so benefits for everyone involved.
The key is to take everything step by step and have your teams or staff members work together in order to obtain coherent, consistent, long-lasting results. Your website development, marketing, affiliate management, and even customer service teams should work together to implement some or all of the above solutions, monitor results, and improve their strategy.
Although they each have their own responsibilities, skills, and areas of focus, at the end of the day, you all want a higher website and affiliate program conversion rate and more sales. The only way to obtain them is to have all your departments work together and support one another. At AM Navigator, we always work closely with our clients’ teams and adopt solutions that benefit not only the affiliate program but our client’s company as a whole.